Invest in education

If Medicare premiums were set to double on Sunday, politicians would have been tripping over one other to ensure they remained the same.

But when it comes to interest rates on student loans, members of Congress seem to be taking their sweet old time. College students are consistently put on the backburner while representatives play partisan politics.

They won’t care until we give them a reason to listen to us. Interest groups like AARP organize their members and funnel them into voting booths each November. In return, they see favorable legislation.

Politicians know they have to court the votes of the elderly to stay in office.

Almost 23 million Americans 65 and older, or 60 percent, turned out to vote in the 2010 midterm elections.

Americans between 19 and 24 couldn’t even reach 21 percent.

“If young people turned out in the same sort of percentages as voters over 65, then student loans would be the third rail of politics like Social Security is,” said Paul Sracic, chairman of the political science department at Youngstown State University.

Politicians are only talking about it because 2012 is an election year. And they’re only debating a one-year solution. Once the votes are tallied in November, politicians will go back to ignoring us.

And until young voters get organized and make ourselves known at the polls, there’s no reason not to.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan fears that a Republican-controlled government would result in the abandonment of student-oriented legislation, but he reinforced the idea of youth engagement.

“If college students were organized, engaged and active at high levels, you’d see a totally different agenda,” Ryan said.

He warned students to pay close attention to legislation affecting higher education, or else they’ll suddenly realize later down the road how their interest rates had served as a fiscal doormat.

But make no mistake: Democrats only want young people to vote to serve their own interests. College-aged voters tend to be liberal.

Perhaps the issue of financial security isn’t as sexy and alluring as the latest rogue militant in some third-world country, but save your ill-informed political speech if you’re not even involved in the political process.

Put up or shut up.